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Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is an American scholar and public intellectual. Formerly at Harvard University, West is currently a professor of Religion at Princeton. West says his intellectual contributions draw from such diverse traditions as the African American Baptist Church, Marxism, pragmatism, and transcendentalism. He earned a Ph.D. in 1980 from Princeton, where he was influenced by Richard Rorty's pragmatism.

He later published his dissertation (completed in 1980) as The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought. He has branded the U.S. a "racist patriarchal" nation where "white supremacy" continues to define everyday life. "White America,' he writes, "has been historically weak-willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks." This has resulted, he claims, in the creation of many "degraded and oppressed people [who are] hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth." Professor West attributes most of the black community's problems to "existential angst derive from the lived experience of ontological wounds and emotional scars inflicted by white supremacist beliefs and images permeating U.S. society and culture.

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